Epictetus summed up the essence of Stoicism as “following Nature”.
“Following Nature”, means accepting external events and acting fully in accord with your core values. This is similar to the Indian notion of Dharma and Svadharma (one’s duty).
The Stoic believe that emotional suffering is caused by trying to control external events that are not under our direct control. The only thing under our control are our own actions and thoughts and by mastering our thoughts and acting in accordance with our values gives us strength to surmount any problem. Thus, like the Indians the stoic come to the same conclusion that happiness is not material and doesn’t have an external source. It is not out of place to conclude that stoics were also minimalists (Marcus Aurelius had a more complicated life being a stoic with all the abundance that he had as a ruler compared to the other stoic teachers who were poor, but not particularly unhappy!)
Stoics believe we must also do our best to ensure that we live in the present. By living this way, we limit the amount of grief or pain we can experience by controlling our perception to look only at what is in front of us. This kind of thinking is meant to reduce anxiety of the past that is unalterable and a future that has not yet to occured.
And so to sum it up:
- You can choose how you respond to events
- You need to be tested to grow
- The most important time is right now
Stoic concept of resilience:
Resilience = Emotional resilience+ being in the present + material minimalism + strength from being aligned to your values